This Costco Price Tag Hack Is The Key To Saving Big While Buying In Bulk

by Angela Andaloro

When you have errands to run, possibly the most tedious part is having to stop at one place after another just to get everything done.

This is why one-stop shopping is truly a blessing. There aren’t a whole lot of places where you can go and get just about everything you need. When you do stumble upon one, it’s important to master the art of shopping there. Take Costco, for example.

At Costco, you can get anything from patio furniture to produce and more. You have to be a member to shop, which is a turnoff for some. The $60 membership fee is nothing compared to the potential savings in the store, however.

The thing is, the savings aren’t in your face. You have to understand how the store works and what to expect. One of the ways Costco keeps prices low is by having an ever-rotating inventory. While some items will be there every time you shop, others are more limited. You can figure out the difference by studying the price tags.

costco checkout

Big-box stores are a wonderful solution to a busy person’s dilemma. How do you find the time to get everything you need without losing hours going from store to store? While there are a few options of big-box stores to choose from, one of the most widely accessible brands is Costco.

Costco has over 500 warehouses across the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, a few states don’t have locations at this time. Arkansas, Maine, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming do not have any locations, according to the retailer’s 2018 end-of-year report.

Many people believe that you must have a membership to shop at Costco. While that is technically the case, there are two loopholes. For one, you don’t have to be a Costco member to walk into a store and check out prices to see if it makes sense for you.

The other loophole is that Costco does offer a membership refund policy. That means if you sign up for a membership and find you aren’t satisfied or maybe don’t utilize it as much as you anticipated, Costco will cancel your membership and refund you in full.

As for Costco memberships, there are three options. The first is a Costco Gold Star Membership. For $60 a year, you get a household membership that allows you access to savings at all Costco locations nationwide.

The second option is a Costco Business Membership. It has everything a Gold Star Membership includes but also allows you to add affiliate cardholders for $60 each. A business membership also allows you to buy items for resale.

Finally, there’s the Executive Membership. It has a $120 annual fee, half for the base membership and half for upgrading that membership. In addition to base membership perks, you get a chance to earn an annual 2% reward on qualified purchases. You’re also granted access to additional savings on Costco services and select travel products.


Once you decide which membership is right for you, take a moment to figure out how to maximize your savings. The key to that is in the price tags. The price tags allow you to determine which items are there for only a limited time and which are staples. This is key to getting the best prices.

The most common price tags you’ll see end in .99. Those price tags indicate full-price items. They also indicate staple items, which means you’re almost certain to find them there every time you shop.

When the price tag ends in .00 or .88, that means the item has a limited inventory, either due to low stock or an influx of returns. The markdown is to try to rid the store of the rest of the inventory as fast as possible.

Next up are items that end in .97. The good news is, that price indicates savings! These markdowns are “manager special” types, meaning that they’re marked down only for a limited time. The only downside is that the savings can be as little as $1.

The next series of prices indicate a special offer that’s coming straight from the manufacturer. Items with prices that end in .49, .89, or .79 are great to act on when you see them, as these promotions typically last for a one- to two-week period.

There’s another price tag factor that you should keep an eye out for. Regardless of the numbers in the price, some price tags will have an asterisk (*). Those products are available only for a limited time and either have been discontinued or won’t be restocked, such as a seasonal item.

costco shopping cart

Now that you’ve mastered all the coded pricing Costco offers, you’re ready to shop and save! You also know which sales are too good to pass up and which can wait for next time, and that makes all the difference in your Costco shopping.

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